(CNSNews.com) – In an interview with CNN prior to Pope Francis’s speech at the White House welcoming ceremony, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said the pope’s agenda is “very progressive.”
“He has a very, very progressive agenda. He is looking in the eyes of the wealthiest people in this country who make billions of dollars, and he is saying, you know what – you cannot continue to ignore the needs of the poor. You cannot continue to ignore the needs of the sick,” said Sanders.
CNN’s Chris Cuomo: What do you hope to hear from the pope today?
Sanders: I think what the pope has done which is really extraordinary, Chris, he is reaching out not just to the Catholic Church. He is reaching out to the people all over the world and with an incredibly strong message of social justice, of talking about the grotesque levels of wealth and income inequality that exists all over the world, the dispossessed, the elderly people who are living alone, the young people who can’t find jobs, and he is saying as a planet, as a people, we have got to do better, that money and the accumulation of money and the worship of money is not what it should be about, that we cannot turn our backs on our fellow human beings.
Cuomo: It’s almost as though he is #feelingtheBern, because many of those themes resonate with your campaign. Are you surprised by some of the pushback that is preceding the pope’s address, people saying he better stick to religion, he better not get into politics.
Sanders: It’s funny. The answer is, no I’m not surprised, because he has a very, very progressive agenda. He is looking in the eyes of the wealthiest people in this country who make billions of dollars, and he is saying, you know what – you cannot continue to ignore the needs of the poor. You cannot continue to ignore the needs of the sick, and he is also saying that trickle-down economic theory – he’s very specific about that – really doesn’t work, that government itself is obliged to protect those who are vulnerable. And that’s a message, I have to be honest, many of my Republican colleagues do not want to hear.
Cuomo: But at the same time, he balances it by saying, by the way, there are sins and excesses of populism as well, and people who he’s talking to will look back and say, ‘With all due respect, Holy Father, the American form of capitalism has raised more people than many other societies – probably all other societies combined – and we are a big reason for global success and not just global division.
Sanders: Well, the answer is yes, and the answer is no, that in the midst of that success, we have more people living in poverty today than almost any time in the history of this country, and the gap between the very rich and everybody else is growing wider. And Chris, it’s not just an American issue. Very shortly, the top one percent of the world’s population will own more wealth than the lower 99 percent, and he is also by the way, talking very profoundly and significantly about climate change, and he’s talking about it as a religious person. This is God’s earth. You cannot destroy it, and we have to be aggressive in transforming our energy system.